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Survivor 42 looks like more of the same, for better and for worse

Survivor 42 looks like more of the same, for better and for worse
Survivor 42's cast: (top row, left to right) Lydia Meredith, Rocksroy Bailey, Marya Sherron, Jonathan Young, Mike Turner, Drea Wheeler, Romeo Escobar, Lindsay Dolashewich, Hai Giang, and Chanelle Howell. (bottom row, left to right) Zach Wurtenberger, Tori Meehan, Daniel Strunk, Maryanne Oketch, Jackson Fox, Jenny Kim, Omar Zaheer, and Swati Goel. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

CBS announced the Survivor 42 cast this week, along with a handful of details that, coupled with the promos that have been running on TV, suggest that Survivor 42 will not be a drastic change from Survivor 41. That’s good news and bad news.

It’s also not surprising news! The teaser that aired during last fall’s finale called the new season “the most dangerous version of Survivor ever seen,” continuing with Jeff Probst’s meaningless use of the word “dangerous.”

Meanwhile, CBS has been advertising the season with a “The Monster is Back” promo, which is curious because I thought that for something to return, it had to have shown up already, and I still don’t know what “the monster” is—unless it’s the producers ravishing and destroying most of what makes Survivor great.

CBS also said in a press release that season 42 “continues to define a bold new era of the series with the return of risky beware advantages, game-changing twists, and a relentless pace that will push these castaways to their limits.”

In other words: What you got for dinner is what you also get for breakfast. Ugh. I just really, really hope they get the message for Survivor 43 and back off of these ludicrous twists, and especially stop giving so much time and attention to them, instead of focusing on the people.

If you’re going to cast a group of dynamic, diverse, interesting, entertaining people, let them play the fucking game. Trust your format, Survivor! It works! It’s the best competition format on TV!

Both seasons filmed back to back last spring, so of course they couldn’t change anything even if they wanted to (and I see no indication that they wanted to). There is, perhaps, time to edit or re-edit episodes to be less-focused on twists and advantages, to avoid, say, creating an entire episode that’s only about advantages.

The good news, however, is that the cast—like Survivor 41’s cast—looks very promising, from their bios and the promos.

Survivor 42’s cast

Jeff Probst returns as host and showrunner for Survivor 42
Jeff Probst returns as host and showrunner for Survivor 42 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

Don’t tell the Survivor fans on Facebook, but Survivor 42 will once again have a cast of people “from diverse backgrounds” who “bring a fresh perspective to this new era of the game,” as CBS said in its announcement.

As I wrote last fall, I think the show’s “biggest error was to fundamentally alter the game of Survivor this season at the same time the cast’s composition changed so dramatically. Instead of trusting their cast, producers decided to to manufacture drama with twists that repeatedly undercut and undermined everything we love about this game.Survivor gave its bigoted fans a clear line of thinking: this cast is ruining their favorite show.”

I really, really hope that the same thing will not happen again this season, and perhaps those fans who are used to seeing a cast that mostly looks like themselves will get more used to seeing people—and hearing about life experiences—different from their own.

Survivor 42’s cast will once again begin the game in three small tribes, which works for me because it gives fewer chances for players to hide in the middle—though if one tribe dominates, like last season, it gives us less time getting to know them.

Of the 18 cast members, three are from Canada; last season, Erika Casupanan became the first Canadian to win Survivor.

The oldest castaway is 58; the youngest is 19; and one-third of the cast is either 29, 30, or 31.

Here they are, along with their professions, according to their CBS bios:

  1. Chanelle Howell, 29. New York City, executive recruiter
  2. Daniel Strunk, 30, New Haven, Conn., law clerk
  3. Drea Wheeler, 35, Montreal, fitness consultant 
  4. Hai Giang, 29, New Orleans, data scientist
  5. Jackson Fox, 48, Houston, health care worker
  6. Jenny Kim, 43, Brooklyn, creative director
  7. Jonathan Young, 29, Gulf Shores, Alabama, beach service company owner
  8. Lindsay Dolashewich, 31, Asbury Park, N.J., dietitian 
  9. Lydia Meredith, 22, Santa Monica, Calif., waitress
  10. Marya Sherron, 47, Noblesville, Indiana, stay-at-home mom
  11. Maryanne Oketch, 24, Ajax, Ontario, seminary student 
  12. Mike Turner, 58, Hoboken, N.J., retired firefighter
  13. Omar Zaheer, 31, Kitchener, Ontario, veterinarian
  14. Rocksroy Bailey, 44, Las Vegas, stay-at-home dad
  15. Romeo Escobar, 37, Norwalk, Calif., pageant coach
  16. Swati Goel, 19, Palo Alto, Calif., Ivy league student
  17. Tori Meehan, 25, Rogers, Arkansas, therapist
  18. Zach Wurtenberger, 22, St. Louis, student

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!


Thursday 10th of March 2022

Survivor knew Jackson failed to have a full disclosure about lithium before they started shooting and let him stay on anyways. At that point, you let him play until he shows negative side effects and let us see it so we can understand why he has to go. Or, you treat him like EVERYBODY else and you replace him before shooting starts. Had he been anybody else he would have been booted but Survivor does back flips to tell sad stories. And that bores me now. If everybody has a sad story (which literally every human on Earth does) then it's boring. Show us some people who actually are just winners and that's all we know and all we want to know. I thought it was a horrible show and I've seen every season but really thinking of quitting now. Season 41 was super bad. What happened to showing good looking people? Geesh. Maybe I'd rather bowl with these people but come on, I really don't want to look at them. It's TV, not radio!


Tuesday 15th of February 2022

I've been wondering what the monster is. I have no clue what the monster was last season. I kept waiting for the smoke monster from 'Lost' to appear.


Monday 7th of March 2022

@A1Keith, Maybe it's puppet master Tyler Perry with all his "suggestions", or it's lurking in Jeff's shorts?


Tuesday 15th of February 2022

Maybe the "Monster" is Russell Hantz? Or Johnny Fairplay?


Friday 11th of February 2022

Jeff is starting to look like the comedian Carrot Top.